U.S. CONGRESS: Pass legislation NOW to protect our transgender troops
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We are calling on the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Armed Services, to support and pass S. 1820 and H.R. 4041 respectively, in order to prevent the involuntary separation of trained, mission-capable, honorably-serving American military members solely on the basis of their gender identity.
To enlist in the US Armed Forces is to volunteer your time, your talents, and your life, if need be, in defense of the Constitution, the people, and the interests of the United States. As Senator John McCain points out, less than 1% of Americans are willing to enlist, so every one of our trained, dedicated, and mission-ready personnel is an asset to our national security.
Over the years, the US military has opened up to accept an increasingly diverse range of service members. From the full inclusion of African Americans and women, to the more recent acceptance of openly gay troops, our military has only grown stronger as it embraces more tolerance and diversity. This is because the military is free to avail itself of the unique talents and abilities of more Americans, without regard to personal characteristics that are unrelated to their ability to serve with distinction. Clearly, race is one of those characteristics, and it is becoming more widely accepted that gender (specifically female gender) does not necessarily impact combat-readiness, either. The natural next step is understanding that having a non-binary gender identity, such as being transgender, likewise does not, in and of itself, make a person any less capable, patriotic, or compatible with military service.
In recognition of this, then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced in June of 2016 that transgender service members could openly serve and transition while serving. He called for enlistment of openly transgender troops to begin within 1 year. This was a victory for all Americans, allowing our military branches to maintain the world's most capable fighting force by recruiting and retaining the best people, regardless of gender identity. Today, there are thousands of honorably-serving transgender troops in our ranks. The military has been working for the past year and a half to address issues, conduct training, and provide these valuable members of our armed forces with the full benefits of service, including medical and mental health care related to their transgender status.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis was in the process of reviewing the impact on military readiness of the new policy and had just extended the deadline for implementation until January 2018, when President Trump spontaneously tweeted his intention to ban transgender individuals from any military service. In August of 2017, the President made it official, issuing a directive to Secretary Mattis to ban new enlistments of transgender individuals and giving him 6 months to determine how to deal with the thousands of transgender troops who are currently serving. Secretary Mattis and the Joint Chiefs are obligated to carry out lawful orders from the Commander in Chief, but they have delayed implementation for the time being, and now it is up to Congress to pass legislation that would make the President’s ban unlawful.
Identical bipartisan bills have been introduced in the Senate and the House, and the time is now for Congress to come together and pass S. 1820 and H.R. 4041, which would make it illegal for any otherwise qualified military service member to be involuntarily separated solely on the basis of their gender identity (read the full text here). This is a vitally important step in preserving the combat-readiness of our armed forces, the security of our nation, and the basic human rights of every brave American who volunteers to serve in the US military.
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